Known as the second-largest city in Greece, with about a million inhabitants, Thessaloniki is the seaside city with over 3000 years of history and lots of UNESCO valuable heritage sites to offer. The city consists of three main parts: the northwestern, the southeastern, and the central part inside the Byzantine Walls - Thessaloniki’s historic centre. The city centre is divided into two parts: the commercial centre and the Old Town (also Upper Town - Ano Poli in Greek). Explore these following must-see attractions in Thessaloniki with me below.
White Tower on the seaside
For seaside lovers, stick around the area around White Tower - the symbolic one and only surviving tower in the seafront of Thessaloniki in the Lower Town area. There’s a museum inside that you can visit for 3 EUR (roughly 3.5 USD). You can also climb up to the top for a stunning view of the waterfront. In front of the tower, Aristotelous - the biggest square of the city, with a green surrounding environment, is an important meeting point for the locals. Various cafes and restaurants lying along the seafront promenade offer excellent drinks and an atmosphere with good music.
Rotunda (including Kamara - the Arch of Galerius and the Galerius Palace)
Besides the White Tower, another important meeting point in the city is the Rotunda, including Kamara or the Arch of Galerius next to the Galerius Palace. Rotunda, known as the Roman temple of Zeus, remains as old as the Pantheon in Rome. The square in front of the Rotunda is full of people, most of the time. When passing the square, stop by Ekklisia Panagia Dexia Christian Church for a quick visit. From here, follow Dim Gounari street towards the seaside, you will end up in an area with lots of nice souvenir shops, street-style clothing stores, music shops, nice cafes, and restaurants that keep the city’s atmosphere constantly alive and energetic.
The Upper Town with endless monuments
Go back to the Roman era in Greece in the Ano Poli - Upper Town area by visiting the Roman Forum in the upper side of Aristotelous Square, the Byzantine Citadel and the Heptapyrgion. The Roman Forum, also known as the Agora, was also used for gladiator games and Roman bathhouse. Parts of the Byzantine Walls throughout the city, make up what is known as the Heptapyrgion today, and offers magnificent views of the bay. Come here in the late evening to be enchanted by the city down at your feet with lots of luminous surroundings.
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Dozens of Byzantine churches
With numerous Byzantine churches spreading over the Ano Poli, and a large Jewish community since the Roman period, Thessaloniki has a strong religious atmosphere. Some of the most important churches to check out are the Agios Dimitrios (Hagios Demetrios) and the Agia Sofia (Hagia Sophia), both of which are all on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. All churches in Thessaloniki in the Upper Town area can be entered for free, and are mostly located by green areas surrounding the squares in front of them.
Thessaloniki - a young city with plenty of things to offer
The Central Macedonian capital of Greece is not a touristy city at all, but more of a student town with two of the largest universities in Greece located here: Aristotle University and the University of Macedonia. There are endless bars and restaurants for both locals and tourists to enjoy the excellent Greek cuisine, and one of the top nightlife scenes in the world. The city at night is always active, especially during the weekend and Thursdays when most students go out to party. There’s also a lot of street-art around the city in hidden corners awaiting your exploration.
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